SWD Cricket wait another season for top flight cricket

South Africa’s domestic Twenty20 tournament will revert to a six-franchise event in the 2012-13 season after an expanded line-up this summer. A seventh franchise – Impi, comprising players from the semi-professional league and captained by Paul Collingwood – participated in the tournament but finished last and failed to record a single win.

CSA identified the manner in which the franchise was assembled as the main reason for its failure. Impi’s squad selection depended on the six existing franchises making players available to them – which was eventually resolved a few days before the start of the competition. They also had problems firming up their overseas contingent and, at the time of their launch, had only managed to sign two of the four foreign players they were allowed.

“The difficult part of it was getting the players,” Vincent Barnes, Impi coach and high-performance manager told ESPNcricinfo. “Had players been released sooner by the franchises, it would have been better. So that was disappointing.”

Barnes said that though the team had a torrid time on the field, the environment was good. “The feedback I got was that all the players said they had had a fantastic time and enjoyed the competition,” he said. “Some of them would not have played franchise cricket if there wasn’t a seventh team.”

Willie Basson, CSA acting president agreed that Impi had done its job in terms of “creating opportunity” but conceded that it did not “produce the results we hoped it would.”

However, CSA has not shelved its plans for a larger domestic structure. It plans to appoint a committee to report back on the merits of a 12-team provincial set-up versus the current franchise system.

If CSA choose to adopt the larger structure, they would be reverting to an old format. Before the franchise system was adopted in 2004-05, the provincial set-up consisted of 11 teams who competed in a first-class and limited overs competition.

If the new proposal is adopted, it will see a 12th team added to the domestic setup. The team is likely to be South Western Districts, who are based in Oudtshoorn, in the Western Cape. They were granted provisional affiliate status in November last year and have been identified as a region which can cater to the development and progression of black African players in particular.

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